Lemon-Lavender Blueberry Muffins


Even though blueberry season doesn’t officially kick off here in Michigan for a month or so, it’s a great time to buy the ultimate superfruit in our local markets. Michigan produces more blueberries than any other state, with 21,000 acres dedicated to just that. We grow 30 different varieties, and about 40% are sold fresh. So no matter where you live, if you’re eating fresh blueberries, there is a very good chance they came from the ol’ Mitten!

My husband has a preeminent sweet tooth, and baked goods are his weakness. Add chocolate and RUN. As much as I enjoy whipping up yummy vegan desserts for him, I do have to watch our sugar consumption. These muffins are the perfect treat for that, because most of their sweetness comes from the berries themselves. This means less sugar. You won’t miss it, I promise!

I think I was around 10 when I baked my first batch of blueberry muffins. My grandma taught me, and that was the first time I’d ever seen a lemon zested. I can still remember how those sweet berries would just burst in my mouth, and that little zing of the lemon after… Gunk! I have been making them the same way she taught me since, except in recent years, I’ve discovered that adding just a tablespoon of lavender takes these mamas to a whole new level of deliciosity.

These muffins are so light and airy!  Read this now and believe it later, these will become a new favorite. They are really simple to make and go with absolutely anything. We like them best in the morning with a cup of black coffee or some cinnamon tea.

Sorry I went all Hans and Franz on you. I’m just pumped (clap) up about these muffins.

"Yah, you will eat these yummy muffins and they will not cause a flab-alanche!"


1 cup non-dairy milk

1 ½ teaspoons vinegar

2 cups flour

2 ½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

2/3 cup sugar

6 Tbsp canola oil

1 tsp vanilla

Zest of one lemon

Juice of ½ lemon

1 Tbsp dried lavender

1 pint fresh blueberries


  1. Preheat oven to 375. Spray a muffin tin with non-stick spray (or line with paper cups).
  2. Combine non-dairy milk and vinegar in a small bowl and set aside, allowing time to curdle. Any non-dairy milk will do, but soy seems to curdle the best.
  3. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, soda and salt.
  4. In a medium bowl, stir together the oil, sugar, lemon zest and juice, lavender and vanilla. Add curdled milk and stir until well combined. Carefully fold the wet ingredients into the dry, being careful not to overmix. Gently stir in the blueberries.
  5. Fill tins with batter about ¾ full. Bake for 23 minutes (Yep, this is the tried and tested amount of time). The toothpick test is always a good gauge.
  6. Remove from the heat and let muffins cool right in the pan before taking them out.

Makes one dozen.

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Vegan Sweet Potato Curry



Hey, friends!  It’s been way too long, I know.  I won’t go into all the gory deets about the reason(s) for my sabbatical… Let’s just say a few major life events have taken place since my last entry. My dad passed away in January.  That was tough. He was a great guy and was well-loved by his family, friends, and his community. I really miss him.

I had my long-awaited spinal surgery in February, and am now in the process of building my strength back up via physical therapy (sans pharmaceuticals, thank you!). Also, we moved into our new house! We actually moved in the day after my operation, so I had the perfect excuse to not lift anything heavy. Or anything light. Or really to do anything at all except lie there, look pretty and coalesce. Two of those goals were accomplished, anyway. It’s not easy to look cute when you’re racked with pain, constipated and hopped up on opiates. I wish I had a picture to share! Between photographic proof of my hideousness and all this talk of death and bowel issues, this may very well be the best food blog EVER WRITTEN!!

At any rate, I’m back… And properly pumped about sharing some of my new creations, as well as some old faves I’ve up and veganized!  Why “up and”?  Who started that?  Maybe I’ll up and look it up later.

So, Brian and I are always searching for hearty main meals. We have our go-to dinners, but it’s fun to try new things… Especially when that new thing turns out to be a home run. This curry is a home run. It’s a grand slam. And not the Denny’s breakfast kind.

I don’t usually name my food, but I jokingly told Brian I was going to call this curry “Stef”. He didn’t get it, so I told him how Steph Curry is one of the best basketball players of all time, shooting-wise  (in my opinion, he’s up there with Chauncey and Reggie), and this curry is a slam dunk. And not the special at Dunkin Donuts. Plus, STEF are the first four letters of our last name. Ergo, “Stef Curry”. 

Now that this recipe has been christened, as well as metaphorically and hyperbolically correlated to TWO sports terms, it’s time to share.  We love this recipe so much that it’s now part of our weekly rotation! Let me know what you think!




1 Tbsp canola oil

1 small yellow onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

½ tsp cinnamon

½ tsp turmeric

½ tsp cumin

1 tsp ginger

1 Tbsp curry powder

Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional, but just do it)

1 can (15 oz) chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained

1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced into 1” chunks

15 oz coconut milk

½ cup chopped fresh parsley

Jasmine rice, for serving


  1. Heat oil in a deep skillet or Dutch oven for a minute of two over medium heat.  Add the diced onion and cook 2-3 minutes until soft and translucent. Stir in the garlic.
  2. Add all the spices and continue to cook another 3 minutes or so, allowing the flavors to hang out and get close to their onion friend. This is an essential step, I say, in developing some deep and delicious flavors for any curry dish.
  3. Toss in the chickpeas, tomatoes and coconut milk. Lastly, add your sweet potato chunks.
  4. Turn the heat down to a simmer and cover. Let cook for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. You want the sweet potatoes to just be fork-tender, not mushy. After the 30 minutes is up, taste to see if you’d like to add more spices. At this stage, I usually hit it with a little sea salt and black pepper, with just a dash of red pepper flakes. Continue to cook, if necessary, until sweet potatoes reach desired consistency.

My favorite way to serve this dish is as pictured:  Put prepared rice in desired serving dish, ladle curry over, then top with freshly chopped parsley.

Makes 4 servings.

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Roasted Chickpeas Four Ways



Hey, Lentil-goers! Happy 2018!!!

It’s been a minute, I know. Oh, the plans I had to blog some of my new favorite holiday dishes! But time, because life. In the words of the great American humorist Will Rogers, “Half our time is spent trying to find something to do with the time we have rushed through life trying to save.”

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas! I know I did… Filled with family and friends and food… This was my very first vegan Christmas, and it did not disappoint. I may have even won over a carnie or two (that’s carnivore, not carnival worker) with some of my newly veganized baked goods, especially my Yo-ho-ho Rum Cake. I call it that because it’s a Christmas cake (ho-ho-ho) with rum in it (yo-ho-ho). Just picture Santa with a patch over his eye and a cardinal on his shoulder. We’ll spare giving him a wooden leg, because fireplaces.

Yo-ho-ho, Mateys!!!!

One of the highlights of our Christmas season was spending time with family we don’t get to see too often, like my niece Jessica and her husband Steven. They live in Hawaii, where she is a professional fitness model, bikini competitor and business owner.  Jess has accomplished many things in her lifetime that most of us would never even dare to dream about. She is an inspiration to people all over the world, and I couldn’t be prouder of her!  What makes her even more b.a. is that the girl is legally blind. At the age of 14 she was diagnosed with Stargardt Disease, a form of juvenile macular degeneration. She never let that, or anything, get in the way of her success. Her favorite saying is “The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision”.  Amen to that!!!

Like looking in a mirror, I tell ya.

We had lots of fun with Jess and Steve during their stay.  They came along with us on our house hunt (did I mention we’re house-hunting?  Because there’s no better time than the holidays to do that :~). We made scented soaps with some family members for her blog, and I showed her how to prepare a simple, healthy snack from chickpeas. So with Jessica in mind, this post is dedicated to the humble chickpea. Or garbanzo bean. I still don’t get how it’s a pea and a bean, but sure.

Chickpeas are one of the earliest cultivated legumes. Most of us these days associate them with hummus (did you know “hummus” is actually the Arabic word for chickpea?), but there are so many more ways to enjoy them. They are filled with protein and fiber, and rich in necessary vitamins and minerals. I seriously eat them straight out of the can. Roasting them brings out a whole other side of these unassuming legumes (good band name), and in addition to being a yummy snack, they also can be used in place of croutons in salad, or as a soup topper. Yum!

Try one or all of these flavors, or make up your own!  I have a serious weakness for salt and vinegar chips, and those flavors work perfectly for this recipe… Minus the guilt. This really is the perfect snack; healthy, crunchy, tasty… A real help in keeping those fitness resolutions for the new year!




1 can (15.5 oz.) chickpeas, drained and completely dried

2 Tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp. sea salt



  1. Preheat oven to 425.
  2. Drain the chickpeas and blot them with paper towel until they are dry. Place on a baking sheet lined with Silpat or nonstick aluminum foil.
  3. Toss with olive oil and salt.
  4. Place in preheated oven and roast for 15minutes (they sometimes pop like popcorn, so you might want to place a sheet of aluminum foil loosely over the top). Remove from the oven and toss with a wooden spoon, then roast for another 10 minutes or so, until golden brown and crispy.
  5. Remove from oven and toss with one of the following spice combinations:

Sweet and Spicy:  1 tsp. paprika, 1 tsp. chili powder, ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper, ¼ cup pure maple syrup

Ranch: 1 tsp. minced onion, 1 tsp dry dill, ½ tsp. garlic powder, ½ tsp. thyme, ½ tsp black pepper

Cinnamon-Sugar:  ¼ cup sugar, 1 tsp. cinnamon

Salt & Vinegar: 1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar (or rice wine, or any vinegar, really), ½ tsp. sea salt

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Thai Peanut Noodles




The future, the present and the past walked into a bar. Things got a little tense.

That’s just my dad joke way of saying happy December!  How fast has this year flown by, seriously??

I almost want to spend an entire day at the DMV, just to slow time down a bit. Or maybe the airport. Better yet, why not just hop on a treadmill, where time actually stands still?  And am I the only one who thinks “treadmill” is an awful word for a piece of exercise equipment? It’s no accident that “tread” rhymes with “dread”. Think about it: Only on a treadmill can you keep taking steps without moving forward. Did you know that the treadmill was originally used to drive machinery? It’s true. It was used by animals to power small farm machines, for medical research, and even to punish prisoners (Ok, that one actually makes sense. It can feel like a punishment to tread that mill.).



With Christmas right around the corner, I’ve got some great holiday recipes on deck, so stay tuned! But for now, I want to share with you one of my go-to meals. Because it’s so simple to make, it’s perfect when you’re short on time. Most vegan bloggers have their own version of this recipe in their arsenal, and for good reason.


We like it spicy, so I always add extra hot sauce. This time I used carrots, mushrooms and red onions, but you can use any combo of your fave veggies!

It’s easy to customize things to your liking, too; whatever veggies, whichever noodles, however spicy… Plus, it’s just as good cold the next day, if not better. That’s usually what happens here, unless we wind up scarfing down the whole thing in one sitting. Yup, it’s that good! Almost treadmillworthy. Go away, spellcheck.

 My beautiful Mom!!!  Brian and I brought her these noodles and the potstickers with sesame dipping sauce while she continues to recover from her hip replacement. She told me she could definitely go "vaygan" (that's how she pronounces it, like Ronald Reagan) if she could have me cook for her every day. If only, if only!


Thai Peanut Noodles



*12 oz linguine (or rice noodles, or spaghetti)

* 1 ½ cups thinly slice bell pepper

* 1/3 cup roasted peanuts, chopped

*1/4 cup chopped cilantro

*1/4 cup sliced green onions

For the Sauce:

*1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

*2 Tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce

*1 ½ Tbsp agave nectar or pure maple syrup

*2 Tbsp lime juice

*1 Tbsp sesame oil

*2 tsp Sriracha

¼ cup warm water



  1. Prepare pasta according to directions on package.
  2. While noodles are cooking, prepare the sauce. Stir together peanut butter, soy sauce, sweetener, lime juice, sesame oil, Sriracha and water until smooth. Add a bit more water to thin the sauce, if needed.
  3. Drain the noodles and return them to the pot. Add bell peppers. Pour in peanut sauce and toss to coat.
  4. Place the noodles in a bowl and top with peanuts, cilantro and green onions. I also like to add a slice of lime as a garnish, which can and should be squeezed over the finished product, just to give it that extra little juuuuushhhh.

Serves 4

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Pumpkin Spice Cake with Cinnamon Frosting




Welp, it’s almost the end of yet another season… Pumpkin Season!  Isn’t it weird that we automatically associate pumpkin flavor with fall? I mean, I guess it makes sense. The gourds are harvested in October, and can be used to make so many wonderful foods like bread, soup, and this CAKE!! AHHHHH!! It’s so good.


Hmm? Hmmmm???


That pumpkin overkill though.  Please, oh marketing wizards and brand ambassadors of the world, let’s scale back on the pumpkin spice barrage and keep it to food, beer, maybe a nice candle. There is no earthly need for pumpkin spice toilet paper. Wrong kind of pumpkin roll. I’m pretty sure I pumped pumpkin petrol into my gas tank yesterday morning. And yes, I sniffed my hands after, and they smelled like nutmeg ethanol*. 🙂

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, I wanted to post this recipe for those who may want to do dessert a little differently this year. That includes us, since this will be our very first vegan Thanksgiving! Traditional pies are a wonderful thing, but it's nice to bring something unexpected to the table.  And this recipe could not be simpler to throw together!

This cake is moist, fluffy, and slightly dense without being heavy. The sweet frosting (I wanted to call it “buttercream”, but that’s like a compound double vegan no-no word) is the perfect complement to the spicy richness of the cake, and a sprinkling of cinnamon over the finished product is the icing on the icing on the cake.  It is seriously deeeelicious, and sure to become a family fall favorite.

*Nutmeg Ethanol. Good band name.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!


*2 cups flour

*1 cup brown sugar

*1 cup white sugar

*1 tsp baking powder

*1 tsp baking soda

*½ tsp salt

*2 tsp cinnamon

*2 tsp allspice

*1 can pure pumpkin puree (15 oz)

*1 tsp vanilla

1 Tbsp vinegar

1 flax egg

For Frosting:

*4 cups confectioner’s sugar

*10 Tbsp vegan butter

*1 tsp vanilla

*1 Tbsp nondairy milk



  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Make your flax egg by adding 3 tablespoons hot water to 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed meal. Let it sit and get all Augustus Gloopy while you prepare the other ingredients.
  3. In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, sugars, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and allspice.
  4. Add the pumpkin, vanilla, oil, vinegar and flax egg and mix very well. Thick batter? Yessss. You did it right.
  5. Spray two 7” round cake pans with non-stick spray and then add a circle of parchment paper to the bottom of each.
  6. Divide the batter evenly between the two tins.
  7. Place into the oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Transfer to a wire cooling rack and let cool completely before frosting.

Prepare your frosting by putting the powdered sugar, vegan butter, vanilla, soy milk and cinnamon in the bowl of an electric mixer. Starting at the lowest speed, gradually increase the speed until frosting is smooth. If it’s too thick, add soy milk, just a drop or two at a time, until desired consistency is reached. Add a bit more confectioner’s sugar if you want it a little thicker.

Once your cakes are completely cooled, frost the top of one of the layers, then add the other layer and frost the whole cake. 


Sprinkle the frosted cake with cinnamon.  If desired, add some crushed, toasted walnuts to the top, as pictured.



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Garlic Knots



I was at the Goodwill (go figure) when I spied w/ my little eye the pear pepper grinder. When I turned it over to check the price, it said "$1.99 set". Set? Upon further investigation, I found its mate, the apple salt shaker. Two bucks?!? Come on, so cute!! 

There are so many corny bread (cornbread?) jokes out there that I’ll try to refrain from incorporating them, like so much yeast, into this writing. Might sound half-baked, but I will try to rise to the occasion.

Must…refrain… Don’t say “on a roll” …

Skipping over the story of the plight of the Pillsbury Doughboy and what that conniving Sara Lee (allegedly) did to him, let’s talk bread.

Bread, like that Doughboy joke, is both ancient and nothing to laugh about. Universally, bread is seen as a sign of peace.  It is a crucial element in hundreds of different religious ceremonies around the world. At one time, it was even used as currency. Maybe that’s why we equate bread with money; the more you earn, the more bread you can provide for your family. I distinctly remember as a kid in the 70s when our spotty-faced teenage neighbor refused to shovel the driveway unless Pops “coughed up some bread”. I was probably seven, so I hadn’t quite mastered the art of hyperbolic banter* (that wouldn’t come until I turned 9 – ha!), and was quite literally waiting for the guy to cough up some actual bread.  Instead, what Pops coughed up from his perch on the porch, through his thick, icy Marlboro breath was “NO BREAD! NO DOUGH! Just a CRUSTY old man who wants a ding dang footpath to the ding dang mailbox!”

 Sorry, Michiganders.  It’s coming.

*Hyperbolic Banter. Good band name.

Enough of this flakiness. Ain’t nobody be kneading that. I’m super stoked to share this simple recipe for vegan garlic knots, which are the perfect accompaniment to my lasagna roll-ups, soups and stews, or just all by their lonesome(s), fresh out of the oven. And that smell… I mean it’s just the best thing since, well, you know.  

In the words of the great Cervantes, “All sorrows are less with bread”. And in the equally wise words of the also great Smokey Robinson, I second that emotion, Miguel de.



  • 3 cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 package yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 cup water

For Garlic Butter:

  • 3 tablespoons vegan butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons Italian herb spice blend (or one tsp. each dried basil and dried oregano)


  1. Preheat oven to 450.
  2. Mix the yeast and sugar together in a bowl. Add the warm water (between 95-115 degrees F) and stir to dissolve. Let sit for 10-15 minutes, or until bubbly.
  3. Put the flour, baking powder and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer (or, you can go old-school and do it by hand). Mix dry ingredients well.
  4. Pour yeast mixture over, add oil and mix well.
  5. Allow to rise in a warmish place. Cover with a tea towel and allow dough to rise until double in size, about 45 minutes.
  6. When dough is ready, turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly.
  7. When a smooth dough is formed, take about 2 tablespoons and roll out like a snaky thing.
  8. Tie the snake into a loose knot, fold ends in and flip over.

Bake in the preheated oven 15-18 minutes, until lightly golden brown.

While the rolls are baking, make the garlic butter:

Melt the vegan butter in a small saucepan.  Add the oil and seasonings and keep warm.

When the knots are finished and out of the oven, brush each one with a generous amount of garlic butter.

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Yummy Vegan Lasagna Roll-Ups



As the weather grows colder, I grow hungrier. I’m not sure if it’s some primordial instinct (good band name), or just an excuse to eat more. Either way, with the promise of upcoming holiday feastsuses comes the undeniable craving for comfort food.

What comes to mind when you hear the phrase “comfort food”?  By nature, the foods we find comforting come with a bit of a stigma. They are usually rich and filling and calorically dense. They also tend to come slathered with cheese, drowning in gravy, or swimming in sauce, and almost always with a supersized side of guilt. But just what is it about these qualities in foods that draw us in like… like… like similes and metaphors?

For some, it’s a memory connected to past comfort.  Just one whiff can take you back to those Sunday dinners around Grandma’s table. The region of our brains responsible for our sense of smell is closely connected to the part that handles memories and emotions. These are called “smemories” by people who are me.

Other times, we seek comfort in food the way we would a friend. After all, a true friend is always there for us. I’ve seen people take out their stress and frustration on a poor unsuspecting bag of Oreos (Brian), and I’ve witnessed a woman scorned practically bankrupt a Chinese buffet, all because the guy she’d been seeing for the last three months wasn’t actually the Gunnar Nelson, just a drifter selling blonde hair extensions out of the back of his 1989 Dodge Caravan/”small living space”.  I’d have to call that discomfort food. I know it made me uncomfortable.


Each of us has a favorite comfort food.  Even within the same household, it can be diff’rent strokes. For example, Mr. Drummond might have had a bad day at his nondescript wealthy New York businessman day job, and all he can think about is getting home to Mrs. Garrett’s lentil meatloaf and mashed. After her harrowing encounter with the creepy photographer who picked her up hitchhiking, Kimberly turns to dark  chocolate to calm her shattered nerves (Why, 70s television, WHY???).


Willis and Arnold, on the other hand, are talkin’ bout dairy-free ice cream. Moral of the story: The world don’t move to the beat of just one drum. What might be comfort food for you, may not be comfort food for some.

On a very special episode, they all sit down around a candlelit table and enjoy a lovely Italian dinner of salad, garlic knots, and deliciously comforting lasagna roll-ups.  Spoiler alert: IT’S ALL VEGAN!!

I wasn’t sure I could veganize one of my favorite comfort foods, but by gum, I’ve done it!  These lasagna roll-ups are filling, satisfying and yes, comforting.   The meal the fractured 70s sitcom family portrayed above is pretending to enjoy is actually the perfect meal to feed your real, together family on a meatless Monday, or to serve to guests you really, really like. 🙂



  • 12 lasagna noodles prepared according to package directions, drained and laid flat to dry (I use either parchment paper or a cookie sheet)
  • 1 recipe Master Marinara (or 3 cups of your favorite vegan sauce, which this should be!)
  • Optional: Sauteed vegetables (onions, peppers, zucchini, mushrooms) to add to sauce for more substantial comfort)
  • 1 recipe Cashew Ricotta

Cashew Ricotta

  • 1 ½ cups raw cashews
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast, or "nooch", as we call it
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • ¼ tsp each kosher salt and black pepper
  • ¼ cup non-dairy milk, unsweetened
  • Water as needed, for consistency
  • ¼ cup (about half a bunch) Italian parsley, chopped


Preheat oven to 350.

Put your cashews in a medium bowl. Bring a small saucepan of water (I use my tea kettle) to a boil and cover the cashews well with it. Let them soak while you make the marinara and/or boil the noodles, at least half an hour. Alternately, you can soak them overnight. I’ve almost always got cashews soaking in the fridge.  Drain and place in blender or food processor. Add the other ingredients, except for the water, and blend until smooth.  You’ll have to scrape down the sides a few times to make sure everything’s smooth and creamy. If needed, add water a teaspoon at a time until your desired consistency is reached. This is what mine looks like after hanging out in the fridge overnight and being slathered on the pasta (See? We can slather too!)...


By the way, this makes a really great dip for crackers or crudité!

Place ricotta in a bowl and mix in the chopped parsley.

If sauteeing vegetables, now is a good time to do that and add them to your sauce. When the sauce is finished and cooled a bit, pour about a cup in the bottom of a 9x13” baking dish.

Now comes the fun part!  Put about 1/4 cup of the ricotta mixture on each noodle (I always make 12, but lose a couple along the way, so really it’s 10 noodles I use. Just be sure to distribute the ricotta evenly betwixt noodles). Leave a little room along both ends and carefully roll up. Place seam-side down in prepared baking pan and cover with remaining sauce.

Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 10 minutes.

Oh!  I would be remiss to not include a recipe for quick vegan parmesan.  It’s a really nice addition to so many things, but especially pasta dishes like this one. Before you pop these babies into the oven, just take:

  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast, or “nooch”, as we call it
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¾ teaspoons sea salt

and put all the ingredients in a blender (or food processor fitted with the S blade) and pulse until it’s the consistency of parmesan cheese.  It’s super important to use the pulse button, because if you go too far, you will have cashew butter!

We put this beep on EVERYTHING!  Even popcorn.

Sprinkle on enough to cover each rollup and then put it in the oven. Store any leftover parm in the fridge.

A cibo consolatorio de vegano… To Italian vegan comfort food!


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Master Marinara



Ahhhhh, another glorious Indian Summer day in West Michigan! Or is it Native American Summer now? I can’t keep up. Either way, it’s a beautiful rainy fall day, and it brings to mind a beautiful people.


I have had so many thinks about which recipe to post next!  So far, the hardest thing about being a recipe blogger is just getting everything in order. Not only am I easily…

…Wait, it seems weird to say “ A beautiful people”… Is it singular or plural?  It is grammatically acceptable, no matter how stilted, because technically, “people” refers to a group or nationality, and is therefore singular …

… distracted, but my brain is so full of ideas and recipes  (not to mention grammatical ponderings) that I have to force myself to take a step back, breathe, and just concentrate on one thing/think at a time. I’ll refrain from using that old colloquialism about eating an elephant one bite at a time, because vegan. And also because eww. Elephants are herbivores too, you know, and get a load of their “canines”!  Plus, any female anything who endures a whole year of pregnancy deserves the utmost respect, in my book.  

I was making dinner last night when it hit me. Not dinner, an idea.  Brian wanted spaghetti, so I checked the pantry for ingredients. I had 2 big cans (thank you, doctor!) of tomatoes, so I decided to make a double batch of sauce. I also had two beautiful red bell peppers, so on second think, I decided to split the double batch and make one half roasted red pepper/tomato sauce. You won’t believe how easy it is to do this!

Sauces have always been one of my specialties. They’re way easier to veganize than I thought they would be, with the exception of cheese sauces.  Those can be done right, but it takes a certain flair. This sauce is so simple to make and so versatile!  I will follow up this post with a couple recipes that feature this marinara. It will probably become a staple in your rotation; it freezes really well and is great to have on hand when you’re short on time.


Like the stick-shaking scenario in my Pumpkin Apple Spice Muffins blog, I wondered about the origin of the word “marinara”.  I knew it had something to do with the sea, but further research left me wanting.  I do know it’s from the same root word as mariner (sailor) and marinate (steep or pickle in liquid). So let’s just say a drunken Italian sailor invented it sometime in the late 1600s and get down to business.  Just as I’m sure he did. Mama mía!



  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 cans (28 ounces each) crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
  • ½ cup red wine (or 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar)
  • ½ cup vegetable stock



  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan on med-high heat. Add onions and cook for one minute. Turn the heat down to med-low.  Add the basil, salt, pepper, sugar, oregano and crushed red pepper and stir together, coating the onions, about another 3 minutes. This will not be pretty, but it will smell heavenly! I like to cook my spices along with the onions and garlic so a little of their bitterness cooks out (Yes you, oregano. You know how you get).  Hit it with the minced  garlic and let cook for one more minute.
  2. Add the tomatoes (undrained), tomato paste, wine or vinegar, and stock. Stir all ingredients well.
  3. Turn flame down to the lowest flicker.  Cover your pan with a tight-fitting lid and then walk away like you just don’t care. Like that mariner probably did.
  4. Stir every 10 minutes or so. Let it simmer at least 30 minutes (an hour is better, if you’ve got it, but 30 will do).

If you like your sauce slightly chunky, you’re done!  If you prefer it smooth, use an immersion blender, food processor or blender to puree until smooth and creamy. I cannot recommend an immersion blender enough.  Such a time-saver.

That’s it!! There’s your master sauce.  If you only want tomato sauce, this will be enough for two meals (about 3 ½ cups). If you want to make both, here’s what you do:

Pour half the sauce in a bowl. That marinara is on leave and can go chill while we make the red pepper sauce. The only additional ingredient you’ll need is two red bell peppers.

Before beginning the master recipe, heat the oven to 400. Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly oil it. Turn each pepper on its side and place on baking sheet and into the oven. Let them roast for 20 minutes, flip over and let roast 20 more. If the skin is charred and the peppers look like they’ve collapsed in on themselves, you’ve done it right!

Now put them in a bowl, cover them with plastic wrap and let them hang out whilst the tomato sauce is simmering.

Once cool, peel off the plastic wrap and remove charred skin, seeds and stems.  They should look a little something like this:

Now add the peppers and their juices (the preciousssss) to the remaining tomato sauce. Blend until smooth.

That’s it!! You now have two delicious homemade sauces to go with pasta, ratatouille, OR……….

How about soup two ways?

That’s right. All you have to do is add 1 tablespoon of vegan butter and half a cup of nondairy milk to either sauce (or both) and voila!  You’ve got a couple of hearty soups!  This time around, I turned the roasted red pepper sauce into a soup, and used the marinara to go with my lasagna roll-ups. Yum!  I will be blogging those next, including how to make the best vegan ricotta.

Until then, me swabbies, anchors aweigh!

Aaaaaaand… now I’m craving pasta and Gene Kelly movies.

Buon appetito!


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Vegan Pumpkin Apple Spice Muffins



After lots of thinks, I decided my first recipe should be simple, versatile, and yummy (obvs).  These muffins are perfect for a quick breakfast, portable snack, or alongside any of the soups/stews I will be posting in the very near future.

No one would ever (nor does ever) guess these are vegan muffins!! They are light and airy, and at the same time, the apples give them a heartiness that is so satisfying. Here in Michigan, apples are a big deal.  We are the nation’s third largest producer, with more varieties than you can shake a stick at, whatever that means. I should look that up.

Okay, I just looked it up. There were stories of the saying’s origin taking place in various English pubs, tales of Native Americans in battle, and even a yarn about a shepherd and his flock. It’s all conjecture, really. My money’s on the pub story. Picturing Brits drunkenly shaking sticks for unknown reasons is the most fun scenario, by far.

So in actuality, at last count, Michigan has roughly 18 different varieties of apples. I use them in savory dishes as well as for desserts, and I almost always lean toward the more tart. In this recipe, I usually use Fuji.  I know it’s a Japanese apple (and city, and camera), but we actually grow it here now and it’s the perfect balance of tart and sweet, not to mention its harmony with all those spices… Fall personified. Except muffins aren’t people, so … Fall muffinified.

All right. I just ate one.  My description was just too much.

These muffins come together so quickly, and are sure be a new favorite! I promise, you’ll be making more batches of these than any Cockney Carouser could shake a stick at.

Note: When I say flour, I am referring to all-purpose. When I say sugar, I am referring to granulated. If you would like to substitute in gluten-free, whole wheat, etc., or cane sugar in place of granulated (which I often do), that’s great!  Different flours do produce  different textures, so just a heads-up on that.

Also, how cute is that elephant mug?  Scored that at a local thrift shop for $2.99!


  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup pure pumpkin puree
  • 2 large, tart apples, peeled and diced
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup non-dairy milk


  1. Preheat oven to 375. Combine first eight ingredients in a medium sized bowl and mix well. Stir in pumpkin, vanilla, milk and oil. Fold in apples.
  2. Line a muffin tin with paper liners and fill each about 2/3 full.
  3. Bake 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted.
  4. Makes one dozen muffins
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Curried Root Vegetable Bisque with Cinnamon-Ginger Pepitas



Fall in Michigan is truly a natural wonder.  It's almost a clichè, with its trees clothed in their royal robes of red, orange and gold, shedding a flamboyantly autumnal path for you to swoosh (and later crunch) through...

Cider mills are milling, pumpkin patches are patching, and I am souping.

Maybe it's the brisker climate that does it to me, but every fall, without fail, I go into soup mode.  I make soup year-round, but there's just something about autumn that compels me to make it more often.  It's a very harvest-y food.  It's also a universal food.  Think about it... Every culture in the world eats soup.  It's inexpensive and comforting and filling. It's a great way to make the most of your leftovers. It's also so forgiving (Thank you, soup, for absolving me of my cooking sins... I genuflect at your tureen...)!  What I mean is,  you can put your own twists on a basic or classic recipe to customize it to your liking.  My jeans should be so forgiving.

This is one of those recipes that allows you to mix and match your favorite root vegetables.  I've never made it the same way twice!  For instance, I don't do beets.  I just don't get the whole beet thing.  So instead, I used carrots, parsnips, turnips, rutabaga and squash.  Feel free to interchange your root veggies; just be sure everything is cut uniformly so it all roasts up evenly.

And if you do like beets and want to use them, we can still be friends. Just know that their juices will for sure turn your soup a hue somewhere between salmon (color, not fish, because vegan) and dubonnet.  Which is actually quite beautiful!  I wish I liked beets. I wish I didn't think they taste like dirt and sticks and other stuff you're not supposed to eat. I guess that makes me a beetist. Brian loves them, and I feel kind of guilty sometimes for not buying and preparing them for him just because I don't like them. Then again, he can buy his own ding dang beets and make them his own ding dang self!  Don't get me wrong... Brian wears the pants in the family.  I just tell him which ones to wear.  

Get ready for your kitchen to fill with the savory aromas of autumn, and ladle yourself up a big ol' bowl of this rich, creamy deliciousness!



  • 2 lbs. assorted root vegetables, such as carrots, turnips, parsnips, rutabaga, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 1 butternut or acorn squash, about 2 lbs., roasted
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼  teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ginger
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce (alternately, you can roast 2 peeled, cored and cut up apples along with your vegetables)
  • 2-3 cups water
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 425. Place vegetables on a lightly oiled, foil-lined baking sheet and pour oil over. Season with a little salt and pepper, then gently mix it all together with your (obviously clean) hands so that all the vegetables are coated.

  1. If using butternut squash, cut in half lengthwise; for acorn, cut right across the middle. Scoop out the seeds and stringy stuff. If using for pepitas, place in a bowl and fill with enough water to cover the seeds, add a dash of salt and let soak and place in a bowl; otherwise, discard.  Rub each squash half with a little oil and place open side down on another foil-lined baking sheet. Place both pans in the preheated oven.
  2. Cook for 30 minutes, turning the vegetables once halfway through. Continue to cook until tender and nicely browned, turning every 10 minutes. The squash may take a bit longer, depending on its size.
  3. While vegetables are roasting, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven on medium. Add onion, garlic, cinnamon, ginger, thyme, curry and pepper flakes, if using. Season with a dash of salt and a crack of black pepper. Cook until onion is soft and spices are fragrant, 5-7 minutes.
  4. Add vegetable broth, milk and 3 cups of water. When vegetables are roasted and have cooled a bit, Add to the broth mixture. The squash should slip easily out of its skin (sassy squash) and can be chopped roughly and added to the pan. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer and let cook about 20 minutes.
  5. Working in batches (or using an immersion blender, which I highly recommend), puree in a blender until smooth and creamy. If it's too thick, add water a bit a time until it reaches the consistency you like.

For the pepitas:  Dry completely. In a small bowl, toss together ½ tsp. each olive oil and maple syrup, 1/8 tsp. each cinnamon and ginger, and a dash of salt. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake at 325 for 6 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand until cool.

Freeze soup in airtight containers, leaving 1" of space, for up to 3 months.

Serves 6-8

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